Saving Seneca Lake from HABs, other risks

Harmful Algae Blooms, nutrients, phosphorus, and invasive species in one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the continental United States — all are issues that kept a room at Hobart & William Smith College full March 24 for the 2018 Seneca Lake Water Quality Summit.

Those issues each require much more attention, according to Mark Venuti, chairperson of the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, who says the lake needs a specific plan encompassing nine elements prescribed by the state, and a watershed steward to coordinate efforts to improve the lake’s health.

“The Lake is not a static organism,” said DEC research scientist Lewis McCaffrey of the Finger Lakes Water Hub, explaining its recent transition to a waterbody with less oxygen and higher levels of nutrients. Another presenter, John Halfman of Hobart & William Smith Colleges, said those elevated nutrients help feed the ancient organisms that result in the harmful algae blooms that have appeared on area lakes recently. And based on the research, the algae that results in those blooms will not be going away, but humans can take action to lessen the instance of their impact on the lake, which provides drinking water to thousands of people, and recreational opportunities to thousands more.

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